Women’s soccer closes out 2022 play bested by Bowling Green

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Mingda Wu

Midfielder Abby Zipse (center) passing the ball to forward and freshman teammate Amber Best on Oct. 16 at the NIU Track and Field & Soccer Complex. (Mingda Wu | Northern Star)

DeKALB – NIU women’s soccer was defeated by Bowling Green State University in heartbreaking fashion to end their 2022 campaign on Thursday.

Both NIU and Bowling Green had uneventful first halves. The Falcons tallied only one shot on goal on four shots total, while the Huskies recorded one shot on goal on three shots total.

Momentum for both teams was largely shut down due to the physicality of the first half. Bowling Green recorded eight fouls while NIU recorded seven fouls. The slow first half ended in a 0-0 draw.

The stalemate was broken in the 50th minute as freshman forward Amber Best scored NIU’s first goal of the game. Junior defender Lea Gruennagel assisted Best on the play to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.

“Amber’s physical presence allows her to be dangerous wherever she is,” head coach Michael O’Neill said. “She’s really turned some heads this year with the nature of her game.”

Senior goalkeeper Sadie McGill came up with a clutch save in the 74th minute. McGill made her dominant defensive presence felt again, recording nine saves on 17 shots faced.

Despite McGill’s strong performance, the Huskie defense fell apart in the last three minutes of the game. Bowling Green scored the equalizer in the 88th minute, then scored again in the 89th minute. 

The Huskies did not score with one minute left, ending their season in a 2-1 loss.

“Honestly, it was very chaotic,” Best said. “They were defending MAC champions for a reason, they know how to close out a game. Kudos to them.”

“I think maybe we overthought the switch of the formation,” graduate student Jordyn King said. “We were almost in shock after the first one and the second came shortly after. We gotta adapt to change better.”

NIU finished their season 3-6-2 in conference and 6-8-4 overall. The Huskies missed the Mid-American Conference Tournament for the fifth straight year, according to NIU Athletics. Although the Huskies did not finish the year how they would have liked, O’Neill was pleased with the improvements made from past years.

“I took this job knowing they’ve had 10 wins in four years,” O’Neill said. “I think we’ve come a long way … I’m ready to go again and looking forward to what this program can achieve if we continue to build from the foundations we set for ourselves this season.”